The hiatus for John's visit is now over... and I resume with Panama City photos. This is Casco Viejo, the old part of Panama City. It's actually the second-oldest version of the city, but the oldest surviving barrio.
This is a monument to the Frenchie who had the idea for the Panama Canal. I'm a tad surprised that his failure has such a great monument, but hey, the Casco Viejo needs some open space.
Here it is, sunset, before dinner... you can see the Bridge of the Americas off in the distance. The ocean all around Panama City is mudflats, not white sand beaches, and the feel is sultry and hot - humid and full of tropical flower smell, dank fishy mudflat smell... The concrete walls here were lined with lovers, old and young, kissing and watching the sun set, there were Kuna vendors and jewelry makers, it was pure lovely.
How I managed to not get any canoodlers in this shot below, I'll never know.
This is what all of Casco Viejo looks like... very French, very Cuban, crumbling and romantic, with plaster and iron and flowers and music spilling out of doors... people live half-outside, with cooking smells and kids flowing from house to house, and if you fixed up the cracks in the walls or made it all match, you'd devastate it.
This is my favorite pic from the whole trip:
Casco Viejo is blocks and blocks and blocks of this. With bars and restaurants and little parks of grass and benches, with homes and cars and music and hostels and clubs...
Loving the Panama skyline from Casco Viejo.
Goodnight Panama. We went in for a dinner... oh my. Tapas with no menu. They brought 11 courses, with no description beyond "today's fish" or "dessert" or "from Chef Juan". I was stuffed beyond any level of comfort, and the meal was $25. With not-sweet-but-perfect sangria, white walls, wood tables, and conversation around us in at least four languages, it was quite a dinner. If I can find the website, I'll post the link, it's worth it.
A final note... the old version of Lonely Planet, from 1998, says that Casco Viejo is unsafe at night, and only has low-end hotels. Things must've changed a lot in ten years, because there were families, older people, lovers, all walking around past 10 at night, and some of the hotels would practically be called glamorous. It's not centrally located, the area, but it's the original part of Panama, it feels like Cuba, and even if you're sweating up a storm, get some sangria and listen to the sounds of an international city. Two thumbs up, as they say, and highly recommended.